San Antonio Spurs: Every 1st-Round NBA Draft Pick Since 2011, Ranked
By Rob Wolkenbrod
A ranking of every NBA Draft pick of the San Antonio Spurs since 2011.
Given the regular season success of the San Antonio Spurs for the past two decades, they’ve rarely picked above No. 25. It’s mostly made their selections players who secured bench roles or failed to make it to the NBA roster.
For the past six NBA Drafts, the Spurs selected five total players in the first round. They didn’t in 2012, due to a trade that was made.
Three of the five players selected remain with San Antonio. The other two departed over the past two years. So let’s combine them together and rank these picks for the Spurs since 2011. Who topped the list?
5. Nikola Milutinov (2015, 25th Overall)
In 2015, the San Antonio Spurs selected center Nikola Milutinov with the 25th overall pick in the NBA Draft. He’s actually the highest first-round selection of San Antonio’s since James Anderson in 2010.
Milutinov has yet to come to the NBA, though, despite the Spurs potentially needing a big man for the 2017-18 season. He’s spent his time in the Euroleague and Greek A1, putting up the following statistics since 2012:
- 2012-13: 3.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.1 assists and 0.3 blocks in 7.5 minutes per game
- 2013-14: 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.6 blocks in 20.3 minutes per game
- 2014-15: 7.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.3 blocks in 22.4 minutes per game
- 2015-16: 4.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 0.7 blocks in 11.7 minutes per game
- 2016-17: 5.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 0.9 blocks in 13.4 minutes per game
The numbers weren’t gaudy, but his Per 36 stats were percentage points away from a double-double average for his last three seasons. So the potential is there, but Milutinov will need the extra minutes to live up to those deeper numbers.
We’ll see if Milutinov ever heads to the NBA. For now, since he has no experience there or in the D-League, he sits at the bottom of the list for the last five first-round picks.
Next: Livio Jean-Charles
Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Livio Jean-Charles (28) dribbles the ball during an NBA Summer League game against the Knicks at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
4. Livio Jean-Charles (2013, 28th overall)
In the 2013 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected forward Livio Jean-Charles. He was stashed overseas for three seasons, before making his way to the United States in 2016.
Jean-Charles never played in the NBA last season, but worked with the Austin Spurs, the Spurs’ D-League team. He put up the following line: 54 percent shooting, 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.6 assists and 1.4 blocks in 25.3 minutes per game (through 45 contests). However, this all came after he was cut by the team in training camp.
Next season, Jean-Charles will head back to his old French team, ASVEL. He’ll get the chance to boost his stock for a potential NBA return, or stay in France for the rest of his professional basketball career.
Fans never got to see Jean-Charles in a Spurs uniform, and couldn’t make it out of training camp. It made him one of the rare busts for an organization that usually picks its international players out well. Will he ever return to the NBA for a second chance?
Next: Cory Joseph
Nov 6, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph (5) reacts after a play during the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Spurs 98-81. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
3. Cory Joseph (2011, 29th Overall)
With the 29th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected Cory Joseph out of Texas. He played just one season there, averaging just over 10 points per game. Joseph never wowed in college, but was picked in a draft that was perceived to be weak, along with the potential of being a freshman out of school.
For the first two seasons in San Antonio, Joseph played in a combined 57 games, averaging just over 3 points per game. He took on a larger role in the 2013-14 season and became the backup point guard for two full years.
Joseph never became more than a second or third-string point guard, however. He didn’t have that breakout stretch in a season that had him flash starter potential, but still shot efficiently, albeit without a perimeter game.
After Joseph’s fourth year with the Spurs, he left for the Toronto Raptors and took on a similar role. He did put up career-highs in 2016-17, though, with 9.3 points and 3.3 assists.
Joseph can’t be called a bust, as he’s become a steady role player after being selected near the end of the first round of the NBA Draft.
Next: Kyle Anderson
Apr 7, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Kyle Anderson (1) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
2. Kyle Anderson (2014, 30th Overall)
Kyle Anderson filled up the stat sheet at UCLA, averaging over 6 rebounds and 6 assists as a point forward. Athleticism and shooting ability were in question for Anderson, however, leading to the San Antonio Spurs selecting him with the 30th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Anderson is already three years into his time in San Antonio. He became a defensive presence off the bench in limited action, only averaging 14.3 minutes per game.
On the offensive side, the 23-year-old hasn’t averaged more than 4.5 points. The Per 36 numbers don’t provide a major boost, either, as he’s never topped 10.1 points.
If Anderson can develop a better jump shot, he’ll morph into a more reliable role player for the Spurs, or whichever team he’s with after his contract expires in 2018. If so, maybe he’ll be able to take advantage of the rising NBA salary cap.
Upside keeps Anderson in the No. 2 spot. If his shooting doesn’t progress, then he may fall behind Cory Joseph.
Next: Dejounte Murray
Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Dejounte Murray (Washington) greets NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number twenty-nine overall pick to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
1. Dejounte Murray (2016, 29th Overall)
While Kyle Anderson’s spot is partly based on upside, Dejounte Murray’s is fully this. He was only picked in the 2016 NBA Draft, being selected with at No. 29 overall.
Murray only played in 38 games in his rookie season, eight of which were starts. He put up 3.4 points and shot 43 percent from the field, but didn’t display much of a perimeter game, even in extended action.
In college, Murray only shot 28 percent from three-point range on 3.5 attempts per game. So Gregg Popovich must have made the Washington point guard limit his shooting from beyond the arc.
If Murray develops a three-point game, he’ll establish himself as the future point guard for the Spurs. He’s only 20-years-old, too, so the time is there, along with three years left on his rookie deal, pending the franchise picks up his last two options seasons.
On News4SanAntonio.com, Marquez Anderson went into what can make Murray into the Spurs next point guard, rather than looking for free agents while Tony Parker recovers from an injury:
What separates him from any of the free agents is his pure athleticism, and of course youth. At 20 years old, Murray has room to grow and develop into a special player. The playing time he received in the playoffs will be valuable for his development, as he already knows what it takes to get there.
Next: All 5 Spurs Finals MVPs, Ranked
Murray received ample playoff minutes after Parker went down, playing 20 minutes or more in four games — three of them were performances of five-plus assists and two-plus steals. The upside is there, but will it translate to extended minutes?